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June 30, 2012

Navigating Divorce: Is Your Spouse Hiding Assets?

Hiding and attempting to hide assets from a spouse is more common than most people think. While most people have a tendency to think that the husband is the one that may attempt to hide marital assets, women also attempt to hide assets, and both parties arrive at divorce court thinking that they should have more of the marital assets than they are entitled. In actuality, in divorce situations where one spouse is attempting to hide marital assets, it is usually the husband who is trying to commit this sneaky, unethical and illegal behavior.

The spouse who may suspect that the other partner is attempting to hide assets can take some precautions to expose the guilty party of any wrongful deceit. It begins with hiring a competent professional divorce team. One of the tools at the disposal of such professional team is a lifestyle analysis. The analysis process takes the married couple through a process where total living expenses are calculated and compared with stated and/or reported income. If there is a deficit between outgoing cash and income, it is usually an indication that one of the parties is attempting to hide income.

Other attempts to conceal assets include the following:

  • Stashing money in a safety deposit box or some secret hiding place
  • Purchasing items that are easy to conceal or overlook the value
  • Deferment of salary, bonuses and commissions
  •  Stock transfer
  • Overpayment to creditors

These are just a few tricks that one party may try in order to conceal assets or hide income. Any time a spouse starts changing behavior patterns; this should trigger a red flag. Such changes may include additional and sudden “business trips”, opening additional bank accounts and being secretive about income and expenses, especially when it appears that exaggerations of expenses and significant decreases in revenue for the business owner. The spouse who is attempting to hide assets may have safeguards on his or her computer and is secretive concerning passwords to various online accounts.

The key to ensuring that one spouse is not attempting to hide assets is by being involved in all financial aspects within the household and any business, if applicable. Attempting to expose a spouse who has systematically been hiding assets over a lengthy period may be a difficult task, if not impossible. Failure to share in all financial matters should alert one to the fact that his or her spouse may not be honest.

It is also important to not only show interest but become involve with any interests or hobbies your spouse may have, especially at the beginning of the relationship. One of the parties may have an interest in collecting things of significant value that most people are not aware of, such as art, antiques, coins, stamps and other collectibles. Some of these assets, such as coins, are readily transported away from the marital residence and easily sold for cash, without leaving any type of paper trail.

Both parties need to have at least some idea of what types and amounts of assets that either or both of the individuals have purchased. In situations where a collection may have significant value, each party should have some type of documentation to support any claim they may have concerning such assets within the marriage.

The best stance that either spouse should take is that they do not deserve to be treated unfairly and that neither has to become a victim in a divorce situation. If one suspects the other of attempting to conceal marital assets, he or she should seek the advice of his or her forensic accountant so that proper actions may be taken.

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March 13, 2012

Finding The Right Solicitor Or Lawyer

In years gone by, whether you live in the UK or the US, you would have to undertake the task of finding a lawyer or solicitor when a legal dispute arose.  The law professions were seen as somewhat staid and many firms survived by operating on their long established reputation.  This approach changed dramatically in the US in 1977 when advertising restrictions on lawyers were greatly relaxed.  Solicitors in the UK were still under restrictions until the mid 90s, before following the lead of the US.  Now advertising has become commonplace and you can’t turn on the TV without seeing a legal firm of some type touting their wares.  As a result those who need a solicitor or lawyer will often go for the name that they remember from a TV or radio advert.  However, this can be a mistake and you should really take more care before making your choice. 

Location

Whilst many solicitors and lawyers will operate across the state or even country; it could be that their nearest office is a long way from your home.  Discussions can of course take place over the phone, but in most instances being in the same room is a necessity to deal with some matters thoroughly.  Therefore it is always advisable to first look for options in your local area.  The quickest and easiest way is to do a Google search for the type of service you need and your location, eg. “solicitors in Pontefract” or “lawyers in Orlando”.

Speciality

Once you have found a few local options then take some time to highlight the firms that provide specialist representation in the area that you require.  Some unscrupulous firms will be happy to represent your case even if they don’t have suitable knowledge and experience, which could jeopardise your case.  It is a good idea to ask the firm a few questions about past cases that are similar to yours.  It is possible to include your required speciality into your Google search, eg. “solicitors in Pontefract” + “accident claim” or “lawyers in Orlando” + “personal injury”.

History

Although it isn’t essential to find a firm that has been operating for a long period, it can be a good guide.  There will of course be excellent lawyers that have only been operating for a relatively short period.  However, if you go for one that has been around for many years then there is a better chance that they work in the right way, otherwise they would have gone bust by now.  At this point have a dig around online; looking for reviews of the firm and also ask friend and family members if they have any experience of the firms you are considering.

Straight talking

The legal world can be extremely confusing at the best of times and even more so if your legal representative uses confusing language and jargon.  In order to understand the details of the case clearly it is important to be able to communicate effectively.  Speaking to the remaining solicitors and lawyers on your list over the phone should give you a clear indication of whether you will be able to work effectively with them and help you make your final choice.

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